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FPL tips: Market takes a punt on midfield maybes

Manchester United v Manchester City – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

With the international break in full swing, FPL managers have been using the time to carefully consider how best to set their teams up for the Premier League’s resumption.

The only player to truly rise above the rest so far has been Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, whose closest rival in midfield has barely half as many points as the Egyptian’s 117.

With that in mind, managers are experimenting with a number of midfield maybes ahead of gameweek 12 in an attempt to find a worthy second fiddle to Salah.

Eagle swoop

A graphic showing popular midfielders among FPL managers ahead of gameweek 12

The closest midfielder to Salah 11 gameweeks in is Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher on 62 FPL points after a stellar couple of weeks.

Gallagher has seen his FPL ownership rise by around 300,000 managers ahead of GW12 as the result of a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win against Manchester City and a goal against Wolves the following week.

The 21-year-old Chelsea loanee has now netted four goals and notched four assists this season, ranking 10th for Threat and 10th for Creativity among midfielders.

At £5.8m he is proving something of a steal, and with Palace starting to fly and Burnley, Aston Villa and Leeds up next, thousands have decided he is the real deal too.

Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher (left) celebrates scoring their side’s second goal of the game with team-mate Wilfried Zaha during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday August 28, 2021

(Jonathan Brady/PA)

While Gallagher’s form is tough to ignore, such is the lack of certainty in midfield for FPL managers that Bernardo Silva and Son Heung-min have been backed this week despite middling form.

Silva has scored just three goals this season, his latest coming in the 2-0 win against Manchester United, while he ranks only 17th for Threat and 26th for Creativity among midfielders.

The Portugal international has played 90 minutes in each of Manchester City’s last six league games however, while Pep Guardiola’s side won’t face a traditional top six side until 2022.

At £7.1m and 6.4 per cent ownership Silva could well prove a viable differential, but a season’s best return of seven goals and eight assists (2018-19) suggests he has a ceiling.

Son meanwhile has been, by a distance, Tottenham’s best FPL scorer with 58 points thanks to four goals and two assists.

Those backing the forward will have been encouraged by the appointment of Antonio Conte, while an upcoming fixture list which includes Leeds, Burnley, Brentford and Norwich will only further his popularity.

Unlike Silva, Son has excellent form in producing goals and assists in recent years, having registered double figures for both in the last two seasons.

Out of fashion

A graphic showing popular midfield sales among FPL managers ahead of gameweek 12

What goes up must come down, and three players have made way for their more popular counterparts.

Everton’s Demarai Gray, Man City’s Jack Grealish and Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes have all seen big ownership drops ahead of GW12.

Gray was backed by many after a fine run which saw him net three goals in three gameweeks in the early weeks of the season, but he has since managed just two assists.

His low price point (£5.7m) has protected him to a point, but with Man City up next followed quickly by games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, many have decided now is the time to bin the Toffee.

Grealish meanwhile similarly generated buzz at the start of the season, backing up his well-documented arrival at the Etihad Stadium with a goal and an assist in the opening weeks.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday October 30, 2021

(Martin Rickett/PA)

At £7.7m however the England man has yet to make much of an impression in a team which still looks to have a Sergio Aguero-shaped hole in it, with just one assist added since GW3.

At United, Fernandes had the best start of them all with a hat-trick in his side’s first game of the season, but has since added one goal and three assists.

Those numbers are certainly not awful, but for an £11.7m midfielder managers have clearly decided those big bucks are better spent elsewhere.